Oil changes, flat tires and dead batteries are just a few of the automotive repairs youth at McFadden are learning how to fix as part of “Car Smart,” a 2018 State Volunteer Resource Council Innovation Grant program.
The funding came from the SVRC but it took the generosity of Tim Miller, owner of Grapevine Motors and a committed volunteer at the halfway house, and Oswaldo “Ozzie” Patino, a certified auto mechanic, to get the program off the ground.
Miller recently delivered a black 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt to the Ranch. “When Mike (Mike Stine President of the McFadden Community Advisory Council) asked if I would donate a car I said yes,” said Miller. “It’s a standard and needs work but it drives. “
The Cobalt, in fact, was not the clunker one might have expected. Staff noticed that the car appeared to still be a nice ride.
Miller replied that “all his cars are nice.” He added that he started working on cars when he was a teenager and that led to Grapevine Motors.
“I didn’t go to college,” he said. “I started working on cars and here I am.”
Miller also is a certified mechanic and he’s willing to help teach the program as well.
Patino will teach up to 40 youth how to change a flat using a floor jack and the safety stand; how to check the fluids – oil, brake, transmission and water; and they’ll learn how to change the headlights, brakes and brake pads and more.
“I wanted to do the class because I want to help the boys learn a skill that they could use when they get back home,” said Patino. “They could maybe get automotive jobs, too.”
The program runs until April 2019 and aligns with the automotive program being taught at the secure facilities.
So far, six young men -- CS, DC, DV, GL, GV and ML -- have received Certificates of Completion and a pair of work gloves for successfully finishing the six week program.